The question of Mali

The top five news stories on the FCO website are all to do with Syria, and what the UK government is doing to get rid of the Assad regime. 

 Meanwhile in Africa, a nascent democracy has fallen, a large part of the country is in the hands of a different number of armed grops with differing levels of affiliation to Al Qaeida, trouble is spilling over into neighbouring countries and refugees are on the move.  All this is happening as a direct result of the UK’s last major military intervention.

I speak, of course, of Mali, and the vast desert area referred to as Azawad by those Tourags who seek its independence.  Over the weekend the major town Timbuktu and Gao have fallen to Touareg rebels, taking strategic advantage of the recent coup d’etat.  This coup d’etat was itself undertaken by a section of the army supposedly as a reaction to the civilian government’s inability to deal with armed rebellion in the North, and that armed rebellion was fuelled by the massive overspill of weaponry from Libya via Niger into the desert regions of Mali. 

In the mix are various groups, with confused and confusing allegiance, and including the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), the (Islamist) Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA) , the (Islamist) Ansar al-Din and of course Al Qaeida Middle East (AQIM), present in one form or another (from bases in Southern Algeria).  

More details are here, courtesy of the very excellent Kal at The Moor Next Door. There’s a handy map here.  I don’t pretend to out-analyse Kal on the specifics of what are and what will be in the region, but simply ask the questions:

Do Cameron and Hague now accept that what seemed like a nice Boys’ Own Adventure is turning out to have very nasty consequences not just for the millions now directly affected (Mali’s population is 16 million to Libya’s 6 million) but potentially for the much of the Sahel and into the West African states?

Hague has made no comment on Mali, as far as I can see.  Perhaps he’s not even noticed. 

As and when he does, I’d recommend this book as a primer, and especially the chapter by Robert Keohane on the distinction between act- and end-utilitarianism (aka thinking things through).

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  1. skidmarx
    April 3, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    The map has been updated.
    I think one of the bloggers on your roll wrote a book about humanitarian intervention, but one of your co-bloggers got a bit offended the last time I linked to one of his articles.

    Hague’s a bit busy with a fantasy about how popular Britain is in South America:

    WILLIAM HAGUE: Many of the countries of South America have been pushed as far as they want to go by Argentina on this. They are not willing to join in an economic blockade. They are getting rather irritated behind the scenes sometimes.

  2. Herbie Destroys the Environment
    April 3, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    “a large part of the country is in the hands of a different number of armed grops with differing levels of affiliation to Al Qaeida”

    A bit like Libya then!

  3. Dave
    April 7, 2012 at 12:45 am

    This is stretching logic to say the least. The main protagonists in the coup are Touareg mercenaries recruited by Gaddafi to help him fight his own people. You really think had there been no Libyan intervention they would have decided to return to Mali peacefully? With Gaddafi’s backing they’d probably control the whole country by now – he had a long record of similar interventions in neighbouring states. I understand the urge to find new reasons to hate Hague, Cameron etc, but don’t conflate the results of the Libyan intervention with what was always going to result from the actions of the repressive government there

  4. November 12, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    I’ve been following the detrioration in Mali for a few weeks and I’m really struggling to understand the cause-effect that Libya had. Yes there were weapons in Libya. No that’s not the Conservative government’s fault. Yes, they may have made it to Mali. No, it’s surely a stretch to argue that caused the deterioration of the state?

  1. June 30, 2012 at 8:56 pm
  2. July 13, 2012 at 11:01 am
  3. January 16, 2013 at 1:25 am
  4. January 16, 2013 at 2:01 pm

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